For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, Steve Jobs is one of the most influential and polarizing figures in modern history. Dispute how you may feel about Apple or the man himself, Jobs was a visionary who wanted to design products people loved.
He was also a pretty solid showman. And that’s why we enjoy reading books or watching films about the life and work of Steve Jobs.
We also turn to the words of wisdom that he left behind that we can turn to when we need inspiration on how to live our lives, both personally and professionally. Which is why I’ve gathered these 35 classic Steve Jobs quotes. Print out your favorites and display them in your office for whenever you need a road-map to success.
1. “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.” – Fortune, March, 2008
2. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don’t blame them. It’s really tough and it consumes your life. If you’ve got a family and you’re in the early days of a company, I can’t imagine how one could do it. I’m sure it’s been done but it’s rough. It’s pretty much an 18-hour day job, seven days a week for a while. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive.” – Smithsonian Institution Oral History Interview, April 20, 1995
3. “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998
4. “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998
5. “The greatest thing is when you do put your heart and soul into something over an extended period of time, and it is worth it.” – Conversation with original iPhone team, 2007
6. “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Playboy, February, 1985
7. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – BrainyQuote
8. “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.” – “Jobs: Iconoclast and salesman” by Brian Williams, at MSNBC, May 25, 2006
9 “Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.” – Words of Wisdom: Steve Jobs
10. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
11. “Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, February 5, 2006
12. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” 2001
13. “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words, 2001
14. “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
15. “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – CBS: 60 Minutes, 2008
16. “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” – Playboy, February, 1985
17. “My self-identity does not revolve around being a businessman, though I recognize that is what I do. I think of myself more as a person who builds neat things. I like building neat things. I like making tools that are useful to people. I like working with very bright people. I like interacting in the world of ideas, though somehow those ideas have to be tied to some physical reality. One of the things I like the most is dropping a new idea on a bunch of incredibly smart and talented people and then letting them work it out themselves. I like all of that very, very much.” – Esquire, December, 1986
18. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Wired, February, 1996
19. “Don’t let the noise of other’s’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
20. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
21. “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” – Rolling Stone, June 16, 1994
22. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – New York Times Magazine, Nov. 30, 2003
23. “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
24. “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
25. “I was worth about over a million dollars when I was 23 and over ten million dollars when I was 24, and over a hundred million dollars when I was 25 and… it wasn’t that important – because I never did it for the money.” – “The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires”, PBS, June 1996
26. You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. – Inc. Magazine, April 1, 1989
27. “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” – World Wide Developers Conference, May 1997
28. “When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.” – Newsweek, October 14, 2006
29. “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.” – World Wide Developers Conference, May 1997
30. “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” – Fortune, November, 1998
31. “I don’t really care about being right, I just care about success. You’ll find a lot of people that will tell you I had a very strong opinion, and they presented evidence to the contrary and five minutes later I changed my mind. I don’t mind being wrong, and I’ll admit that I’m wrong a lot. It doesn’t really matter to me too much. What matters to me is that we do the right thing.” – Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, 2012
32. “When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and…to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Interview with Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, 1994
33. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.” – The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993
34. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple Advertisement, 1997
What’s your favorite Steve Jobs quote?
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